By Chris Heide
Whim W’Him has done it again! Like any serialized television drama, Whim W’Him has once again found itself at an epic season finale. Over the past 8 years, Whim W’Him has grown from a promising upstart of innovative dancers to a masterful dance company that is successfully redefining the meaning of contemporary dance.
Lead by the brilliant Olivier Wevers, Whim W’Him is a necessary component of the dance community. Unlike previous seasons, this finale of the company’s 8th season presented a more raw and stripped down iteration of the iconic company- a stark contrast to the bombast filled seasons of years past.
The show opened with one of the most bizarre and disjointed pieces I have ever seen. “Stickers”, by Pascal Touzeau, is an odd, raw and borderline uncomfortable concoction. The nearly naked dancers engaged in series of seemingly random movements, set to an almost irritating cacophonous soundtrack. A great deal of the partner work in this number was engrossing and mesmerizing, but the piece as a whole seemed to have no real storyline- a notable contrast from the bulk of Whim W’Him creations. The number was not bad by any means, per say- it was just profoundly eccentric, abstract, and unusual.
The second piece of the night was called “Duck Sitting”, choreographed by Danielle Agami. At first, I was surprised that an entire number had been created about ducks. Surprisingly, the number just worked,. Ur was filled with innovative choreography, particularly in the realm of group movement. The piece also heavily featured Karl Watson, who has clearly elevated to the role of Whim W’Him Star performer.
Despite the unevenness of the first two numbers, the finale of the evening brought the house down. Choreographed by Wevers, “Silent Scream” is possibly the most brilliant contemporary dance performance I have ever witnessed on stage. While Wevers has always been tremendously talented, he still manages to surprise with his fresh and evocative twist on contemporary dance. “Silent Scream” is a nuanced, moving and stunning exploration of gender identity, self-examination and the struggle to repossess our common humanity in a time of fear and discord. Inspired by Charlie Chaplin, the entire number is a gut-wrenching, politically-charged reflection of modern times juxtaposed with seemingly classic styles of dance. The number heavily featured retiring dancer Tory Peil, who gave one of the most memorable performances of her Whim W’him career.
As Whim W’Him continues to grow in both depth and scope, it s clear that it’s future as a company is limitless.